I love Disney movies.
Well, their animated movies at least. And with good reason; they’re classics! From Aladdin to Toy Story 3, Walt Disney Pictures has had a lot of success over the years. And I mean a lot. Yet, for the all their success, all the movies under their belt, there is one movie that is the shining example of all that Disney has to offer. One movie that eclipses the rest. One movie that rules them all.
The Lion King is not only Walt Disney’s most successful movie, it is the top grossing traditionally animated film of all time. The songs are memorable. The characters are iconic. The animation is superb. This movie has no equal. More than 20 years after its first release, it still stands as a masterpiece. The Lion King is so powerful, that I bet you can’t help but chant along in gibberish to the opening credits. That first note is a call to arms. A rallying cry. A sign that you are about to experience something truly epic.
I swear, to this day, I still get goose bumps every time I see that video. The Lion King changed my life. I can’t say many movies has had such an impact on me, but The Lion King did. After seeing that movie for the first time, my childhood was forever altered.
Similarly, in my adult life, I have to give respect where respect is due. When it comes to scotch whisky, there aren’t too many names that carry the same weight or the same pedigree as The Macallan. Forbes once said that “if there is royalty in the whisky world, it belongs to Scotland, and if there is a king of Scotch whisky, it’s The Macallan.” Quite frankly, I couldn’t agree more. Who else can lay claim to the most expensive whisky in the world? Ever. It’s a remarkable feat, achieved only by, arguably, one of the best scotch whiskies available. Let’s be clear, The Macallan may not be my favourite whisky, but I will be remiss if I didn’t admit that I owe it to The Macallan for introducing me to the water-of-life altogether. The importance of this whisky in Whisky + Architecture’s history is just as note worthy. The Sherry Oak 12 was the first bottle of scotch that the three of us ever bought and the one dram we go to when we’re all together. It is, for all intents and purposes, the W+A staple. As such, The Macallan will always hold a special place in our hearts and our livers.
It should be no surprise then, that when Raise The Macallan, the brand’s flagship marketing week, finally came back to DC, I made it a point to be there to experience this dram in all its glory.
And boy did I!
To get things started, let me note that I attended the first event on the first night of the week. Yes, I was clearly excited. It was held inside DC’s Carnegie Library; a building steeped in history over 100 years in the making. Yet, compared to The Macallan, 100 years is nothing. As Macallan states in their #AcornToCask promotion, they wait over 100 years just to cut the Spanish trees they use for their casks. The history is deep. Regardless, upon entering Carnegie we were directed to a common area where all the guests were allowed to mingle. There I found everything from photo booth opportunities to display cases showing off some of the rarer offerings from the distillery, to even a nosing station where one could test his/her skills be trying to decipher which whisky was which.
But of course, you can only appreciate whisky with your eyes for so long. You gotta taste it to enjoy it. While we were anxiously awaiting the main event, each guest was presented with a ticket that allowed us a sample of The Macallan 10 Fine Oak.
While I continued to parlay with other guests and enjoy my dram of Fine Oak 10 (which admittedly, is one of my least favourite offerings from Macallan), the announcement for the main event finally came. Leaving the mingling area, we were escorted to the main seating area and, I gotta give it to Macallan, the grand stage. We made it to our tables which all had an assortment of corn, rye, barley and nuts for our enjoyment. Thankfully, no time was wasted and our host for the night made his way out, dressed sharp as ever: Brand Ambassador, Craig Bridger.
Before Craig started, he did have a quick announcement. Apparently, they were tracking social media throughout the evening, making note of every post that used their hashtag #RaiseTheMacallan. As such, they thought it prudent to acknowledge the person who used their hashtag the most. It should be obvious by now, that that person was me. As a “prize”, I was told that I, along with the next top 5 persons who used the hashtag for the remainder of the night, would be able to join Craig after the presentation for a special tasting.
After my 15 seconds of fame, what proceeded was a brief history on The Macallan; where it’s from, what makes it so unique, and why we need to drink it. There were also video presentations by various celebrities, all declaring their love for this golden liquid. The more the night went on, the more the name echoed royalty. And I couldn’t expect anything less. I mean, the very sound of the name demands a level of respect and reverence that few brands receive outside the whisky world.
But on to the whisky.
The main presentation kicked off with another sampling of The Macallan 10 Fine Oak, which were handed out by beautiful waitresses bustling their way through the tables and chairs. It was quickly followed up by The Macallan 12 Sherry Oak and then The Macallan 15 Fine Oak.
With every tasting came small interactive sessions with the audience, from using the touch screen pad provided on the table to select the tasting profile, to small orange chocolates for pairing with the 15. At one point, two guests were asked on stage to demonstrate Macallan’s ice ball machine, a contraption which is infinitely cool during a presentation such as this, but will probably be ridiculously unnecessary in my kitchen.
Now, what I expected to follow was the obvious choice, The Macallan 18 Sherry Oak. But apparently they decided otherwise. Instead, we were treated to one of the newest offerings from the distillery, The Macallan Rare Cask.
If I may quote Macallan, “Rare Cask has been crafted from only handpicked sherry seasoned oak casks, some of the most precious and scarce in Single Malt Whisky, with an exceptionally high proportion of them being first fill. The Macallan’s wood policy is unrivalled and it is this commitment to sourcing the industry’s finest, most expensive and exclusive casks that has given rise to Rare Cask, an exquisite whisky with a splendidly rich and resonant hue.” The grandeur in which this dram was presented was nothing short of exemplary. The lights were dimmed, the fog machine kicked in, and rising from the centre of the podium emerged the bottle. I even swore I heard James Earl Jones whisper in my ear as Craig started pouring himself a dram.
I got a real sense of how they are marketing this thing as the best thing since… well… the very invention of whisky. Alas, as the waitresses brought each of us our dram, we thus completed the four selections for the evening and the presentation as a whole.
Yet, as I mentioned previously, Craig did say we were going to be treated to a special tasting, right? As everyone else exited Carnegie, a select few of us were invited to the VIP lounge to sit, relax, and enjoy another helping of Macallan’s Rare Cask, along with Craig himself.
Inside the VIP lounge was a singular bar, with a singular bartender, whose face had a singular expression.
Fortunately, what the bartender lacked in personality, he made up for with a heavy hand. So hey, Hakuna Matata, right? Each pour of The Macallan Rare Cask was hefty and delicious, and we definitely weren’t about to hinder his technique.
Let me put it this way, the Rare Cask is superb. Seriously. Made from 100% First Fill Sherry Casks, this beauty is as silky as it is full bodied. With a gorgeous ruby-red colour, and bountiful fruit and chocolate on the palate, this beast is a true accomplishment from the distillery. Honestly, if I could afford to drop quite a few hundred dollars without another thought, I would have a few of these on my shelf. Yes, a few.
Long story short, I had a fantastic evening. The Macallan may be one of the most famous whiskies in the world – Harvey Specter drinks it, hell, James Bond drinks it whether he’s stealing from behind the bar or has a gun to his head, because he’s James Bloody Bond – but it’s for good reason. Many may say it’s overrated (though I don’t think anyone will say it’s not good), but it’s all about perspective. As I said, the name carries a lot of weight, and, speaking from experience, many people new to the world of whisky tend to place it on a pedestal before they develop their own palates. And yet, events such as Raise The Macallan, in spite of all the marketing power behind it, prove just how approachable this spirit is. So it makes sense.
Thus, in the words of Scar, “long live the king!” Just please, don’t drop this one.
Cheers – Peat